I spent Friday afternoon with my nephew, Grady, at the Cubs-Cardinals game. In what I hope is an eternal annual tradition, this is the second year in a row I've taken him to a Cubs win over the birds at Wrigley. The Cubs eked out a much-needed 3-2 win on Friday, taking advantage of a couple Cardinals defensive miscues.
I absolutely love going to Friday Wrigley games. When the weather is nice—today was some of the nicest—there just isn't anywhere else I'd rather be. All Friday games at Wrigley are played during the day (1:20 start times in recent years, but they used to be 2:20). Ticket prices are usually cheaper and traffic going to the game is lighter. Since the start of 2013, I have now been to eight Friday Wrigley games. To stay awake on the way home to Champaign tonight, I ranked them in my head. And now I'm sharing those rankings with you.
8. April 4, 2014: Phillies 7, Cubs 2
38° with 23-mph winds at first pitch for the home opener. Roberto Hernandez beat Travis Wood. Chase Utley and Wellington Castillo homered.
7. September 19, 2014: Dodgers 14, Cubs 5
I remember deciding to go to this game with my friend Craig because Clayton Kershaw was pitching and the weather was supposed to be very nice. Kershaw struggled, but picked up his 20th win (5 IP, 3 BB, 106 pitches). Edwin Jackson, the Cubs starter, couldn't make it out of the first inning and picked up his 15th loss (0.2 IP, 5 R). The weather was fantastic, though.
6. April 12, 2013: Cubs 4, Giants 3
Game-time temperate of 44° for a crowd of around 15,000. Kyuji Fujikawa blew his first save with the Cubs, giving up two runs in the top of the 9th. Sergio Romo turned around and blew the save himself for the Giants. Dioner Navarro tied the game with a homer before Starlin Castro hit a walk-off double, the first of two walk-off wins on this list.
5. August 12, 2016: Cubs 13, Cardinals 2
The Cubs belted five homers: Willson Contreras, Matt Szczur twice, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler. Jerome Williams gave up four of those in his three innings of work. His performance was one of the worst by any pitcher I have ever seen. Grady and I were there to enjoy it all.
4. July 10, 2015: White Sox 1, Cubs 0
The fifth annual brothers roadtrip stayed local for this Cubs-Sox series. The Southsiders took the Friday game and the weekend series. Carlos Rodon and Kyle Hendricks gave up seven hits in 13 innings combined. Hector Rondon gave up the lone run in the 8th; Emilio Bonifacio got hit, stole second, and then came around to score on a sacrifice fly. Great weather and great company keeps this one up towards the top.
3. June 2, 2017: Cubs 3, Cardinals 2
Grady and I were happy to be in the park for Dexter Fowler's return. He homered to lead off the game, but the Cubs came back to win it, 3-2. Perfect weather.
2. August 7, 2015: Cubs 7, Giants 3
I wrote about this game about 10 days ago: "Friday was a turning point for the Cubs roster; Addison Russell took over the everyday shortstop job from Starlin Castro and Kyle Schwarber got his first game action in the outfield. My brother and I were two of the 41,311 fans present. The game was a Christmas gift from Kevin; I'd say he picked a good one."
1. May 15, 2015: Cubs 11, Pirates 10
This is one of best regular season games I have ever been to. It last five hours and saw 16 pitchers throw a combined 496 pitches. The Cubs built a 7-1 lead after five innings, but the Pirates chipped away to tie it at 10 off Hector Rondon in the 9th. In the bottom of the 10th, Starlin Castro was thrown out by 15 feet on a short flyout to Gregory Polanco.
Redemption for Castro came again in the 12th. The situation was almost identical. Jorge Soler had been walked to load the bases for Matt Szczur, who again hit a short flyball to Gregory Polanco. This time, though, Polanco did not catch it.